SI Vault
Exquisite torture in Chicago
Walter Bingham
July 13, 1959
Forty years of devilish frustration have been the sad lot of an inevitably dwindling band of confident White Sox fans
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
July 13, 1959

Exquisite Torture In Chicago

Forty years of devilish frustration have been the sad lot of an inevitably dwindling band of confident White Sox fans

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

A man in Chicago, call him Max, keeps writing letters to Al Lopez, manager of the White Sox. Here is part of one:

"Taking in consideration the White Sox is the fastest club in baseball, don't you think it would help the sox improve it offense and increase it run production if the Hit and run was use. It also would help when fast runners are on 1st and 3rd, the runner on 1st break for 2nd base if there is no outs."

Max writes to Lopez just about every day. Sometimes he writes to Don Gutteridge, the first-base coach, or to Billy Goodman, the utility infielder. Just about everybody on the Sox has received a letter from Max.

Few of Max's suggestions are sound and some are ludicrous. He once advised that when the slow-moving Walt Dropo and Sherm Lollar got on first and second base, they should attempt a double steal as a surprise. It would have been a surprise all right. The catcher would have rolled on the ground in laughter. Then he would have gotten up and thrown Lollar out at third and might have doubled up Dropo at second. All the White Sox hooted at that idea.

The fact is, however, that Max should not be taken too lightly. After all, he is an interested fan, and no team, especially the White Sox, can afford to laugh at an interested fan. There just aren't that many.

The White Sox, you see, have not won a pennant in 40 years. No other major league team can make that statement. It has been very hard on Max and the other White Sox fans. In fact, the devil himself couldn't have arranged a more exquisite torture than the one these people have had to endure since 1951. In that year the team won 14 straight games and led the league for over a month. Just when fans were beginning to figure out who could get them an extra pair of World Series tickets, the collapse came and the Sox finished fourth.

The years that followed were much the same, except that Chicago was able to finish third, or second. But never first. Always the fast start, bringing fresh hope, and then the inevitable slump, and despair. Last year it was different and it hurt worst of all. Before the season began, the Sox got Early Wynn and Ray Moore in trades. Now, the fans were told, Chicago had the best pitching staff in baseball. Now they had a good chance to win the pennant. The season started, and two weeks later it was over. The White Sox were in last place and it took them the rest of the season to fight their way up to second. But not first. That slow start ended it for many Sox fans. Attendance was off 330,000.


This season Bill Veeck, the genial circus man who bought the Chicago White Sox during the winter, has done much to revive the town's interest in the White Sox. By driving herds of elephants around the field or flying in midget spacemen, Veeck has made Comiskey Park an enjoyable place to visit. Attendance is up over last year and Veeck expects interest in the team to snowball over the next few years. However, fans can take only so many elephants and spacemen. What Chicago needs is a winner, and nobody realizes this more than Veeck.

Veeck, when he took over the White Sox, wanted to get Al Lopez some new players. Lopez thought the men he had could win the pennant.

Continue Story
1 2 3